COVID-19, Violations Prompt PETA Call for Columbia University to Shut Down Animal Labs

School Laboratories to Start 'a Rapid Ramping Down of Research Activities,' Likely by Killing Hundreds of Animals, as Part of COVID-19 Response Plan

For Immediate Release:
April 8, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

New York – Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Columbia University (CU) is urging experimenters to start “a rapid ramping down of research activities,” which will likely lead to the killing of hundreds or more animals.

PETA fired off a letter today to the university’s president, Lee C. Bollinger, demanding to know why the school conducts noncritical animal experiments.

Reports obtained from the National Institutes of Health reveal chronic and systemic violations of the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals in CU’s laboratories. Among other incidents, five adult mice died of dehydration because they had difficulty accessing water; four cages of mice were found without water, food, or bedding; mice were handled and euthanized in unapproved procedures; and 25 cages of mice were placed in an unapproved location and had low levels of food and water, and some were severely crowded or contained mold.

CU’s disregard for animal protection laws and admission that it runs noncritical animal experiments prove that the school needs to stop all animal experiments, ban the breeding and purchase of animals, and switch to human-relevant research methods. The university also needs to tell taxpayers how many animals it deemed extraneous and killed in response to COVID-19.

“Columbia University does a sloppy, substandard job of caring for animals in fully staffed laboratories, so nothing good can be expected amid a pandemic,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “The COVID-19 outbreak should be a moral and scientific reckoning for the school, which conducts deadly experiments on animals. If the university can’t prove that these experiments are needed—which we know it can’t—it shouldn’t be wasting taxpayer money on them.”

Numerous published studies have shown that animal experimentation wastes resources and lives, as more than 90% of highly promising results from basic scientific research—much of it involving animal experimentation—fail to lead to treatments for humans. (Please read under “Lack of benefit for humans” here.) And 95% of new medications that are found to be effective in animals fail in human clinical trials.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or click here.

PETA’s letter to the university is available here.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind